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In this town there are many men of goodwill who are just and kind to strangers.  The people of the villages are the same…and in this they display a hereditary instinct towards generosity.  -Ibn Jubayr, visiting Harran in 1184 AD

In the Harran Valley lie the cities of Harran, the place where Abraham resided until departing on his storied travels southward, and Urfa, where local tradition holds he was born and lived much of his life. Across this flat plain, agriculture still dominates local industry as it has since the earliest days of wheat cultivation.  To the east, the plateau of the Tektek Mountains rises above the surrounding countryside. This maze of rolling limestone hills holds a vast timelessness; and among its peaks are hidden the remains of ancient and mysterious temples, cultic sites, and trade routes.

The Harran Valley is full of farming villages; but the Tektek Mountains, where most of the region’s route lies, are very remote and dry.  The expansive, rolling landscape can make navigation a challenge – hikers here should either come with a guide or be very familiar with multiple navigation techniques. Travelers should also plan their supplies carefully – if spending the nights in family homestays, food can be arranged; otherwise, though, most of the region lacks shops or places to refill on groceries. The lack of shade and vastness of the hills also mandate that hikers bring plenty of water with them.

For the time being, API advises against all travel south of the Urfa-Mardin highway, including the Harran region. In the city of Urfa, we advise travelers to avoid remote, isolated areas and exercise caution.

Sites in the Harran Region:

Harran

Deep in the dust of the uninhabited wilderness, a prosperous caravan city rose up, appearing like a mirage to early travelers like Abraham and Sarah. They made their home in Harran, which would become a world-renowned center for religion and learning.

Sogmatar

Deep in the barren hills of Anatolia near a remote village, seven temples adorn seven hilltops with rock carvings and writings dedicated to the sun, moon, and planets.

Jethro’s City

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Jethro’s City (Suayib Sehri), a former Roman town, is revered as the dwelling place of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. It is here that Moses met his wife, Zipporah, and received the staff with which he would part the Red Sea.

Karahan Tepe

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Buried under timeless hills, one of the first religious structures ever built by humans remains almost entirely a mystery.

Bazda

Head underground to probe the innards of a set of enormous caves carved out by a quarrying operation centuries ago.

Beehive Houses

Harran’s ingenious conical mud-brick structures, whose form may date from biblical times, provided shelter (and natural climate-control) to Harran’s families for generations.

Great Mosque

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The crumbling tower of Harran’s Great Mosque, visible from a distance, stands vigil over the ruins of one of Turkey’s first mosques and once-illustrious university.

Han al-Barur

A ruined medieval waystation reminds walkers that these quiet plains once hosted a busy trade route heading east from Harran.

Harran University

When the classical academies at Athens and Alexandria were closed down under Christian rule, Harran’s world-famous center of learning became a refuge for scholars from across the ancient world with over 8,000 students gathering here.